On Saturday night, the Ward Hotel's Grand Ballroom will be filled with two full big bands, two small groups, music and swirling dancers as part of Northern State University's Big Band Swing Dance.
Northern's big band and instrumental and vocal combos will present an evening of 1940s swing music and celebrate the arrival of spring.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the ensembles begin at 7:30 p.m. The music will be continuous the entire night.
The event has its origins in the NSU Jazz Ensemble's traditional November Big Band concert honoring Veterans Day, where the Jazz Ensemble and vocal jazz students perform authentic works of the Big Band era, dressed in period military uniforms, with ballroom dancers onstage. Before this year, there has been only one jazz ensemble at NSU. Due to increasing enrollment and the recent hiring of Terry Beckler, who specializes in percussion, there are now two full 15-piece big bands at the university.
Performing throughout the evening will be the NSU Vocal Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Timothy Woods, the NSU Jazz Combo under the direction of Fred Hemke, the NSU 1 O'Clock Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Grant Manhart and the NSU 2 O'Clock Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Beckler.
The event, which has been held in the Ward Hotel Grand Ballroom since 2006, was an instant hit with the Aberdeen community, college students and area high school students.
Manhart's band takes its name from its rehearsal time of 1 p.m., and Beckler's group is similarly named the 2 O'Clock band. This rehearsal time naming tradition comes from the famed jazz school at the University of North Texas that had eight different jazz ensembles, with the top band rehearsing at 1 O'Clock. The big bands of the day like Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Chick Webb, Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson and others would regularly call the professors at that university when they needed a new sideman, usually selected from the 1 O'Clock band.
This year's 1 O'Clock band produces one of the most musical, warmest and richest band sounds of any I have directed, Manhart said of his current group.
The Ward Hotel features a cash bar in the ballroom. Tickets, at $10 per person, are available at the customer service counter at Ken's SuperFair Foods. They will also be available at the door.
The night will be wonderful for Big Band music lovers of all ages, dancers, and anyone wishing to be a part of one of these wonderful Aberdeen/NSU collaborations, added Manhart. Plus you will see the Ward Ballroom as it was meant to be: a warm, timeless and elegant room, lighted perfectly, filled with people listening, talking and watching the swirling music and dancers.